When Bucks Fizz won the Eurovision Song Contest and were suddenly thrust into our lives dragging with them a love of primary colours and highlighted perms in desperate need of conditioner, there was nothing I wouldn’t have done to be part of their group. I thought I wanted to be Cheryl (Cheryl was the chubbier, more smiley one, the antithesis of the pouting Posh Spice) but really all I wanted was a circular skirt fastened with Velcro which could be whipped off at a moment’s notice by an identikit boy in a matching sweatshirt and trousers. I also loved the children’s books Topsy and Tim the stars of which were twins who always dressed identically.
I flirted briefly with the idea of dressing my sister up in the same outfits as me but this never really worked as we went for different colours – Hannah blue and me red – and I had a far higher tolerance of itchy fabrics which Hannah wouldn’t abide along with yogurts with bits in (about the only thing I actually would eat). I was more successful in grooming my poor unsuspecting brother as he was seven years younger and had no idea that wearing red tights and a zoo park gift shop sweatshirt was a bit girly albeit a costume for our dance routine to Toni Basil’s ‘Hey Mickey’.
But this was the ’80s and as we know not a lot didn’t happen in terms of clothes in that era – no-one came out unscathed, not even three year olds. I haven’t really revisited that whole twin dressing thing, at least if I did, it was fleetingly. I once made my boyfriend of the time have a piece of fabric which matched my dress sticking out of his tux jacket as if it was a handkerchief. We were off to a black tie party and I thought it was an excellent bit of subtle styling until my friend Lee asked my boyfriend why he had my knickers sticking out of his breast pocket.
The thing is, no matter who you are and how gorgeous and stylish, dressing to look the same as your partner never looks good. It looks cringeworthy and embarrassing and well, as if you want to be in Bucks Fizz.
So why is it so many celebrity couples, even those who rarely step out of the house without consulting a stylist, are drawn to the idea of consciously coupling their wardrobes? Do they think it makes them look cuter? Richer? More bankable? Because most of the time it just makes them look totally daft, with the blokes looking by far the most ridiculous of the two. Most men I know don’t even co-ordinate their socks.
Taylor Swift tends to adapt her wardrobe to each new boyfriend and her latest relationship with Calvin Harris is no different. I am genuinely bewildered because it appears nothing was learned from the denim explosion that turned out to be Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. That was in 2001 and yet since then not only has Justin Timberlake stepped out matching his (generally rather elegant) wife Jessica Biel but countless others have jumped on the matchy-matchy bandwagon too.
The Beckhams love a bit of complementary dressing. They’ve refined it so it’s not so in your face these days but still, do we really need reminding that they are as one? It would be so refreshing if just once they appeared on the red carpet in horribly mismatched outfits – David in the suit he wears when he hangs out with Prince William and Victoria in her World Cup 2006 in Baden Baden hot pants and water melon boob push up bra for example. I can’t help feeling dressing like twins is beneath the Beckhams now what with him having an OBE and her being a feted designer an’ all. We expect it of Mark Wright and Michelle Keegan, it would be disappointing if they didn’t have his n’ hers perma tans, his n’ hers dazzling teeth and his n’ hers swimwear but the Beckhams don’t have anything to prove anymore do they?
And then Brad n’ Ange, who are normally too cool for school did it at the BAFTAs last year and it jumped to a whole new level. Suddenly it occurred to me that it was a status thing, along with having multiple houses and children with peculiar names. Mere mortals don’t go out dressed the same as their partners because they would be laughed at in the pub and then possibly set upon on the way home. Celebrity couples simply climb back into their limo. It’s a way of announcing “Look at us, we can do exactly what we want, including dressing like toddlers!” You won’t see Prince William and Kate appearing in public with co-ordinated wardrobes because they have the status by default and besides they’re far too concerned with being appropriate to waste time comparing the wash of their jeans.
One final word – if you’re tempted to go out looking like 50% of Bucks Fizz (Mike Nolan and Jay Aston rather than Cheryl and Bobby I’m guessing) then for goodness sake make it look like a hilarious accident. After all, there is not a human being in the world who didn’t find Rod, Jane and Freddie deeply disturbing – you have been warned.